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PAM 90 Power Reserve

by Gregko


After weeks of anxious anticipation I got a phone call yesterday from my local Panerai rep. He had received a single PAM 90 and I was at the top of his "list", so I went down and picked it up. This specific example is 379 of 2500 units.

I've been a watch collector and amateur watchmaker for many years, but this was only my 2nd Panerai (I purchased a PAM 001 earlier this month)- Needless to say, I was excited! The watch had arrived at the dealers location only hours earlier, so it had not been out of the box yet for inspection. A crowd of sales people gathered for the unveiling ;-)

My immediate response to the aesthetic appearance of the watch surpassed my original expectations. I had grown accustomed to the dial layout of the previous SOPROD 9040-powered power reserve models with the wind indicator at the 6:00 position, and wasn't convinced that the relocation of the indicator to the 4/5 position would be as aesthetically pleasing; I now believe that this was a biased assumption on my part.

By utilizing the Valjoux 7750 base movement in the new PAM 90, Panerai was able to use the existing constants seconds counter (hacking) at the 9:00 position without any further modification (This is a change from the previous SOPROD-based power reserve that represented the constant seconds counter centrally).

I believe this change in design is logical for a number of reasons. The use of the Valjoux movement's existing seconds indicator allows the constant seconds counter to be more consistent with traditional Panerai styling, as reflected in other models within the line, including the Marina, Submersible, etc. More importantly,by implementing the Valjoux platform in the PAM 90, Panerai has successfully reduced their operational costs by consolidating the variety of calibers offered in their production line. This consolidation simplifies movement personalization, warranty work, stocking and in manufacturing of the cases themselves. Simply put, the case manufacturing process has essentially just abandoned a one-off design to accommodate the SOPROD movement; casting and lathe work for this case can now share the same manufacturing specifications as other 7750-based models in the production line. Other advantages of utilizing the 7750 movement is that service staff can focus on fewer calibers, and also that support from ETA for the 7750 base movement is significant, given that it is the most widely adopted base chronograph movement in the Swiss watch making industry. But why use a caliber that was intended for chronograph use in a non-chronograph model? Certainly some speculation on my part, but I would assume that since the movement must be designed to be sturdy enough to handle the additional stress and demands of a chronograph module, that with this module omitted, the entire movement is less susceptible to premature wear and is also far easier to service than its chronograph-enabled counterpart. Last, but not least, the 7750 is a lot of bang-for-the-buck when you consider that a base movement can be purchased for around $200.

In comparison with the Marina, the new PAM 90 is nearly identical in size, shape and mass with the exception of the case back which protrudes in order to accommodate the winding rotor. The finish of the case is exemplary, as can be expected from OP.

The dial finish is perfect as well, although I would have opted for the Marina-style sunken indicators rather than those of the PAM 90, which are painted to a flush-surface. This is a matter of personal taste, I suppose, but I think that having sunken wells to contain the luminous material creates a cleaner look than having the indices and numerals painted directly to a flush surface. Luminor material is present at 5 minute intervals with non-luminous indications for the minute markers between. The design of the hands is nearly identical to the Luminor base and Marina models, the only perceptible difference being that the finish of the hands is polished rather than matte black.

The crystal is 3.5mm, as with other models and the white on black date indication is clearly legible beneath the inverted Cyclops magnifier.

The PAM 90 is provided with an alligator band lined with a soft leather backing. The finish of the strap is absolute perfection; I’ve not seen a finer-crafted strap anywhere. The PAM 90 is also provided with the typical accessories including a rubber strap, screwdriver, etc. in the “basic” pear-wood presentation case.

The documentation included with the PAM 90 includes warranty/ service information, and an owner’s manual for all of the “contemporary” models. Unfortunately the owner’s manual still refers to the SOPROD 9040 caliber which is no longer in use in this model.

The COSC certificate is also provided, indicating the date of test completion (2/22/01 in this case) along with movement number and running results. The daily variation indicated reflects .3 seconds/ day with a maximum deviation of 1.3 seconds overall; very tough to beat.

Final thoughts?

At $3550 in Stainless Steel and a non-manufacture movement, the Panerai represents a product/ price ratio that clearly indicates a semi-exclusive luxury sports watch. The finish is impressive, workmanship and attention to detail obvious in every respect, and the COSC-reported running results are peerless in this price range. I would highly recommend this model to anyone that is enamored with the Panerai series. What makes this Panerai even more special, and is something that you cannot put a price on, is that it is #379, and there is no other #379 in the world. ;-)